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Student employee of Foreign Ministry probed for suspected illegal visit to Iran

Suspect’s lawyers say ‘no evidentiary basis’ he was in contact with foreign agent; trip to Islamic Republic was before he filled a post at the ministry

Israel's Foreign Ministry building in Jerusalem. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israel's Foreign Ministry building in Jerusalem. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s events as they happened.

Israel freezes oil deal with UAE over environmental concerns

An aerial view of the Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Company's (EAPC) oil terminal at Israel's southern Red Sea port city of Eilat, on February 9, 2021. (MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP)
An aerial view of the Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Company's (EAPC) oil terminal at Israel's southern Red Sea port city of Eilat, on February 9, 2021. (MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP)

Environmental Protection Ministry says it is delaying implementation of a proposed oil transport deal with the United Arab Emirates, freezing a project that has angered environmentalists.

The agreement, which followed the UAE and Israel establishing diplomatic ties last year, would see Gulf oil brought to the Red Sea port of Eilat by tanker, than moved by pipeline through mainland Israel to the Mediterranean port of Ashkelon, from where it would be shipped to Europe.

The oil deal, involving Israel’s state-owned Europe-Asia Pipeline Company (EAPC) and an Israeli-Emirati company called MED-RED Land Bridge Ltd, has not launched.

But activists have sounded the alarm about potential threats to the northern Red Sea corals off Eilat’s coast.

Israeli environmental organizations challenged the plan in court, citing the risks of a devastating leak or spill, with tens of millions of tons of crude expected to be brought through Israel each year.

EAPC submitted its response in court last week, providing a risk assessment, which it claimed that the risk from the increased flow of crude was miniscule.

But today, the Environmental Protection Ministry says the risk assessment “did not meet the conditions” stipulated by the ministry, and is therefore not valid.

The ministry tells EAPC in a letter it is “delaying the evaluation of your preparations to increase activity in the Eilat port, until the government has a discussion and reaches a decision” on the project.

Sa’ar: Opposition to bill barring indicted MK from forming government is ‘personal’

Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar speaks at a conference in southern Israel on July 22, 2021. (Flash90)
Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar speaks at a conference in southern Israel on July 22, 2021. (Flash90)

Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar hits out at opponents of a bill to prevent a Knesset member under criminal indictment from forming a government.

“A mayor, the only person who is chosen directly by the residents, is suspended when an indictment is filed against him… A minister or deputy minister resigns when an indictment is filed against him. Applying this norm to the role of prime minister is a moral statement of the legislator,” Sa’ar writes on Twitter.

He asserts that opposition to the proposal — and not the bill itself — is “personal,” referring to criticism that the measure is aimed at blocking Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu from returning to the premiership amid his trial on graft charges.

Sa’ar’s tweet comes a day after television reports cited opposition in Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party to the bill, particularly by Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked.

Israel said to warn US that Iran close to becoming nuclear threshold state

In this image made from April 17, 2021, video released by the Islamic Republic Iran Broadcasting, IRIB, state-run TV, various centrifuge machines line a hall at the Natanz Uranium Enrichment Facility, Iran. (IRIB via AP)
In this image made from April 17, 2021, video released by the Islamic Republic Iran Broadcasting, IRIB, state-run TV, various centrifuge machines line a hall at the Natanz Uranium Enrichment Facility, Iran. (IRIB via AP)

Israel has warned the United States that Iran is close to becoming a threshold nuclear state, the Kan public broadcaster reports, as talks are held in Vienna on restoring the 2015 nuclear deal limiting the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

The report says the matter is raising consternation among senior officials, who have relayed their concerns to their US counterparts.

Education, health ministries said divided on plans for reopening schools

A meeting led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on plans for the upcoming school year has ended without any final decisions on the reopening.

According to the Kan public broadcaster, there are two main points of contention between the Education and Health ministries — how long students who come into contact with a coronavirus carrier must quarantine for, and whether to promote vaccination in schools.

The broadcaster quotes Bennett urging Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz to reach a compromise during the meeting.

“There is a possibility that each ministry will hold steadfastly to its position or that you sit together in dialogue and reach compromises, as you are expected to do,” the premier reportedly says.

Qatari FM makes unannounced visit to Iran, days after US trip

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani speaks during a joint press conference with his Iraqi counterpart Mohamed Alhahkim in Baghdad, Iraq, on March 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani speaks during a joint press conference with his Iraqi counterpart Mohamed Alhahkim in Baghdad, Iraq, on March 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

TEHRAN, Iran — Qatar’s foreign minister Sheikh Mohammad bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani has arrived in Tehran in an unannounced visit and is meeting top officials, days after visiting Washington, the state news agency reports.

IRNA says that Al-Thani, who is also Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister, met president-elect Ebrahim Raisi and the two discussed bilateral relations.

“Tehran puts special emphasis on relations with Doha,” Raisi says, noting that his administration’s priority in foreign policy will be relations with neighbors.

“Be certain that Iran wishes well for its neighbors,” he adds.

Qatar’s top diplomat earlier met Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif for talks focusing on the “latest bilateral developments and important regional and international issues,” Iran’s foreign ministry says in a statement.

Al-Thani’s visit comes after he met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington on Thursday.

During that meeting, the two reviewed “bilateral cooperation and regional developments, particularly in Afghanistan, Iran, Syria and Palestine,” according to the foreign ministry in Doha.

The Qatari diplomat also emphasized the “need for an open and transparent dialogue between GCC countries and Iran, to achieve stability in the region.”

Since April, Tehran has been engaged in talks with world powers in Vienna over reviving a 2015 nuclear accord, with Washington taking part indirectly in the negotiations.

Israel further restricts Gaza fishing zone after arson balloon attacks

Fishing boats in the Gaza City port, June 25, 2019. (Hassan Jedi/Flash90)
Fishing boats in the Gaza City port, June 25, 2019. (Hassan Jedi/Flash90)

Israel restricts Gaza’s permitted fishing zone by half, after terrorists in the Strip launched balloon-borne incendiary devices into Israel, sparking a number of fires over the course of Sunday, Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians says.

Beginning immediately, Palestinian fisherman will only be able to operate within six nautical miles of the shore — down from 12 nautical miles — until further notice, according to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).

“This follows the launching of incendiary balloons from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory, which is a violation of Israeli sovereignty,” the Defense Ministry body says.

COGAT says the attacks are ultimately the responsibility of the Hamas terror group, which rules the Strip.

Animal rights groups decry plans for meat industry to cage chickens

Animal rights organizations warn that plans to cage chickens for the meat industry — due to form part of the Arrangements Bill that accompanies the state budget — will commit public funds to a project that contravenes prevention of cruelty to animals legislation.

The Agriculture Ministry has been piloting a system that keeps broilers in cages, based on the assertion that the birds can then be transported to the slaughterhouse without being manhandled and therefore suffer less.

It gave the greenlight to a farm to cage its 280,000 heads of poultry as an experiment. Cages are routinely used for laying hens, but to date, have not been used in Israel for broilers.

However, secret footage filmed by animal rights activists at the farm and publicized in September showed workers at a pilot plant pulling the fowl out of the cages, grabbing them by whatever limb came to hand, and hurling them in piles onto conveyor belts that lead to crates for transport.

They did it so quickly that many of the birds fell out of their hands. Others fell off the conveyor belt. The workers could be seen picking them up by their wings or their necks and violently yanking out those that had become stuck on the conveyor belt.

The move is part of a package of reforms to reduce the cost of living.

Calling on the Agriculture Minister to put Israel on the level of other developed nations, a spokesperson for the rights groups Animals Now says, “It’s cruel and irresponsible to build new cages and to allocate public funds to subsidize abuse.”

Student employee of Foreign Ministry probed for suspected illegal visit to Iran

Israel's Foreign Ministry building in Jerusalem. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israel's Foreign Ministry building in Jerusalem. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The police and Shin Bet security service are investigating a student employed by the Foreign Ministry on suspicion of illegally visiting Iran.

He is also suspected of coming into contact with Iranian intelligence sources.

The suspect — who has been released from custody — visited Iran before he filled a student position at the Foreign Ministry, The Times of Israel has learned.

“The issue was dealt with by the relevant Israeli authorities,” says the Foreign Ministry.

His lawyers say the trip was for tourism and was not a secret.

“This affair has been blown out of proportion. The suspect is a normal young man,” the attorneys are quoted saying by Channel 12 news.

They add: “As the court ruled, there is no real evidentiary basis for an offense of contact with a foreign agent. There is no reason for the security services to prevent the suspect from meeting his lawyers for 10 days.”

Russian navy marks 325th anniversary, with Iranian ships taking part in main parade

Iranian frigate 'Sahand' of the Southern Fleet of the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy takes part in the military parade during celebrations for Navy Day, in Kronshtadt outside St.Petersburg, Russia, July 25, 2021. (AP Photo)
Iranian frigate 'Sahand' of the Southern Fleet of the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy takes part in the military parade during celebrations for Navy Day, in Kronshtadt outside St.Petersburg, Russia, July 25, 2021. (AP Photo)

MOSCOW — Russia marks the 325th anniversary of the founding of its navy with ship parades at major ports.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the main parade of more than 50 vessels in St. Petersburg, which includes ships from the navies of Iran, Pakistan, and India.

The Iranian frigate Sahand, which sailed down the Neva River in the parade, and the sea-based vessel Makran have attracted attention from naval observers, due to their unusually long voyages to Russia.

Parades also take place in the Russian naval bases of Severomorsk, Caspiisk, Baltiisk, Sevastopol, Vladivostok, and at the Russian naval base in Tartus, Syria.

Bennett: ‘Critical mass’ of vaccination needed to block COVID

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets with officials at his office in Jerusalem to discuss plans for reopening of schools, July 25, 2021. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets with officials at his office in Jerusalem to discuss plans for reopening of schools, July 25, 2021. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets with senior education and health officials to discuss plans for reopening schools amid a resurgence in coronavirus cases.

“Our goal, as everyone knows, is not to harm the economy, education, or day-to-day life,” Bennett is quoted saying in a statement from his office.

He also says more Israelis need to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“I see what they are doing in the United States, France, England concerning incentivizing vaccination. Ultimately we know that a critical mass is needed block the pandemic, so we need to incentive everyone,” he says.

Serious COVID cases pass 100, in first since start of May

People, some wearing face masks, walk on Jaffa Street in Jerusalem, July 25, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
People, some wearing face masks, walk on Jaffa Street in Jerusalem, July 25, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The Health Ministry reports a further rise in serious cases, which pass 100 for the first time since the start of May.

Of the 101 people hospitalized in serious condition, 24 are listed as critical and 19 are on ventilators.

According to the ministry, 736 infections have been confirmed since midnight, with active cases dipping slightly to 10,977.

There have been 860,344 total infections and 6,460 COVID deaths recorded in Israel since the pandemic began.

The positive test rate so far today stands at 1.78 percent, similar to recent days.

The ministry also says 1,389 people have received a first vaccine dose today and 5,631 got their second shot, amid a push by the government to boost the national vaccine rate as Israel deals with a renewed rise in morbidity.

US State Department hails first commercial flights between Israel and Morocco

The US State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs hails the launch of the first commercial flights between Israel and Morocco’s Marrakesh.

“Another important development stemming from improved relations between our partners and friends in Israel and Morocco,” the bureau writes on Twitter.

Hamas threatens ‘explosion’ if Israel tightens Gaza restrictions

Masked Hamas members apparently prepare incendiary balloons to be launched toward Israel from the Gaza Strip, May 8, 2021. (MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)
Illustrative: Masked Hamas members apparently prepare incendiary balloons to be launched toward Israel from the Gaza Strip, May 8, 2021 (MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)

The Hamas terror group threatens Israel with an “explosion” should it again tighten restrictions on Gaza, as balloon-borne incendiary devices launched from the enclave spark a handful of fires in southern Israel.

Earlier today, Israeli authorities did not allow Qatari-backed fuel into the Gaza Strip, citing a failure by Palestinian Authority officials in Gaza to coordinate with them. The diesel fuel runs Gaza’s only power plant.

“More restrictions on Gaza will only generate an explosion in the face of the occupation,” Hamas spokesperson Abd al-Latif al-Qanou tells official Hamas radio.

Israel and Egypt impose tight restrictions on Gaza, which they say are necessary to prevent a greater threat from the Strip’s Hamas rulers. The terror group took over Gaza in a 2007 coup against the Palestinian Authority.

Al-Qanou adds: “Our people will not be patient for long over the lack of reconstruction and the lag in procedures to break the siege.”

Government okay plan to slash carbon emissions by 2050

The government unanimously approves a plan to drastically reduce carbon emissions by 2050, a move hailed as a “historic moment” as Israel ramps up efforts to tackle climate change.

The measures, initially released on Friday, call for reducing carbon emissions by at least 85 percent by 2050 compared with 2015 levels, with an intermediary target of 27 percent by 2030.

It includes targets for a 96 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in transportation, 85 percent in the electricity sector and 92 percent in municipal waste.

After Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s cabinet approved the measures at a meeting today, Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg hails “a historic moment for health, the environment and future generations.”

Bennett calls it “a precedent-setting decision that will gradually shift the State of Israel to a low-carbon economy.”

Israel signed the 2015 Paris climate accord, pledging to keep its carbon emissions stable until 2030.

Source predicts ties with Morocco ‘will turn into full diplomatic relations’

The national flags of Israel and Morocco are projected on the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, along with the word "peace," in English, Hebrew, and Arabic,  December 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, File)
The national flags of Israel and Morocco are projected on the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, along with the word "peace," in English, Hebrew, and Arabic, December 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, File)

With direct flights between Israel and Morocco launched this morning, an Israeli diplomatic source tells The Times of Israel that the ties with the North African kingdom “will turn into full diplomatic relations.”

The source also also says that an “unnecessary crisis” with Jordan had been resolved.

“They understand that we see them as a strategic partner. We see them as a partner in the security realm, in the economic realm. We have excellent professional ties, and we need to take care of them. We’ve signed trade and water deals…. I believe there will also be visits soon. The goal is visible, friendly ties,” the source says.

The source also stresses that Jordan “is a mostly positive force in our eyes for everything that happens on the Temple Mount.”

Turning to Egypt, the source says Israel is grateful to Cairo for its assistance during the 11 days of fighting between Israel and the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group in May, and for maintaining calm in the coastal enclave.

“They help us in everything having to do with returning our missing and captives. There is a lot of cooperation and goodwill between the sides… the Sissi government is a producer of regional stability,” the source says.

Gaza arson balloons spark 3 blazes in south — fire department

Firefighters try to extinguish a blaze in southern Israel that was sparked by a balloon-borne incendiary device launched by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, June 15, 2021. (Flash90)
Firefighters try to extinguish a blaze in southern Israel that was sparked by a balloon-borne incendiary device launched by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, June 15, 2021. (Flash90)

A Fire and Rescue Services investigator determines that a number of fires in southern Israel earlier today were sparked by balloon-borne incendiary devices launched from the Gaza Strip.

According to the fire department, the arson attacks sparked three small brushfires in the Eshkol region of southern Israel.

“A fire investigator from the Southern District Fire and Rescue Services determined that the blaze was caused by the launching of incendiary balloons,” a fire department spokesperson says.

Education Ministry says all students to return to classroom when schools reopen

Israeli students going to school in Tel Aviv on April 18, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Israeli students going to school in Tel Aviv on April 18, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The Education Ministry rolls out its plan for the upcoming school year amid a renewed rise in COVID cases, saying all students in preschool through 12th grade will return to the classroom for in-person learning.

According to a ministry statement, schools will reopen in all communities — regardless of ranking on the Health Ministry’s “traffic light” system for measuring the severity of coronavirus outbreaks — though preventive measures will be taken in localities with high morbidity.

“Closing an educational institution will only be implemented when there is a dramatic increase in morbidity rates in that institution, in a joint decision of the regional director and the health department,” the statement says.

The ministry adds that principals will be authorized to take steps to shrink class sizes or move to some remote learning at their own discretion.

It also says that virus testing at schools will largely be focused on communities with the highest infection rates.

In a press briefing, Health Ministry Directo -General Nachman Ash is asked about the Education Ministry’s plan and says the two ministries are working together.

“There are still a few points that are not yet closed that we need to clarify,” he says.

Lapid taps hotel association chief as permanent envoy to UAE

Amir Hayek. (Smadar Cafri)
Amir Hayek. (Smadar Cafri)

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid announced on Sunday that he would appoint Amir Hayek as Israel’s permanent ambassador to the United Arab Emirates.

The position is currently filled on a temporary basis by Eitan Na’eh.

Hayek is currently the president of the Israel Hotel Association. He previously headed the Manufacturers Association of Israel and was director-general of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor.

“Amir Hayek, deeply experienced and knowledgeable in the fields of economy and tourism, is the right person to institutionalize the bridge between Israel and the UAE. After the opening of the embassies, the time has come to appoint the first ambassador to the UAE,” Lapid says.

Hayek is a political appointee by Lapid, indicating the UAE-Israel relationship is a top-level priority for the foreign minister.

Lapid: Antisemitism, support for terror groups up because Foreign Ministry was ‘throttled’

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid speaks during a briefing at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on July 25, 2021. (Lazar Berman/ Times of Israel(
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid speaks during a briefing at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on July 25, 2021. (Lazar Berman/ Times of Israel(

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid says in a briefing at the Foreign Ministry that Israel’s neglect of public advocacy and diplomacy led to a rise in antisemitism and support in the West for terrorist organizations.

“They are doing this because no one explains to them what is really happening here. They are doing this because Israel’s enemies invested money, time, and effort, and here they throttled the Foreign Ministry and the hasbara array for political reasons,” he says, using the Hebrew term for public diplomacy.

He also says that Israel has many more friends than it may seem, and that it is possible to improve the situation even further.

Lapid points to his meetings in the EU earlier this month, the opening of diplomatic missions in the UAE and Morocco, and the improvement in relations with Jordan.

Lapid acknowledges that “there are people that don’t love us” in the press, in the Democratic Party and among the American Jewish community, but that there are always people who would like to support Israel in the same places. “But no one spoke with them. Instead, we insulted them and made speeches against them,” he says.

He adds: “We will work with them in a different fashion. We will conduct a dialogue, argue when we must. We will not immediately declare that everyone who doesn’t agree with us is an antisemite and Israel hater. This is not how you handle a country’s foreign relations.”

Lapid promises a raft of reforms, some of which have already been implemented, including absorbing the Strategic Affairs Ministry within the Foreign Ministry, increasing the ministry budget and staff size, and ensuring that the Foreign Ministry is at the center of Israel’s decision-making.

“Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and I are totally in sync on this,” he emphasizes.

Top health official: Get the vaccine, it’s ‘the best solution’ to COVID

Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash speaks during a press briefing on July 25, 2021. (Screen capture: Facebook)
Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash speaks during a press briefing on July 25, 2021. (Screen capture: Facebook)

Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash urges all those who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 to do so, saying it is “the best solution” to deal with the coronavirus.

“The vaccine is safe, effective and it is very important to get vaccinated to reduce morbidity,” he says during a press briefing.

Referring to the decision to reimpose the “Green Pass” denying the unvaccinated entry to some venues unless they present a negative test result, Ash says the measure is being taken now to prevent the need for more stringent restrictions later.

He warns Israelis planning to fly overseas to take into account that entry restrictions into the country could change while they’re abroadץ

Ash is also asked about the possibility of recommending a third vaccine dose, saying he hopes a decision will be reached soon.

“We have been examining this matter for a while already… We are in advanced stages of processing the data to reach a conclusion, which is likely that there is a decline in the effectiveness of vaccines,” he says.

Several blazes break out in south following threats of Gaza balloon launches

At least four fires have been sparked today in the Eshkol Regional Council near the Gaza border.

There is no immediate statement from the fire services confirming the cause of the blazes.

Earlier today, Palestinians factions in the Gaza Strip threatened to resume launching balloons carrying incendiary devices at southern Israel.

Health Ministry: Fewer serious cases among vaccinated with health risks than unvaxxed with no comorbidity

A man receives a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine at Sheba Medical Center on July 12, 2021. (Jack Guez/AFP)
A man receives a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine at Sheba Medical Center on July 12, 2021. (Jack Guez/AFP)

The Health Ministry releases figures from the first 6 months of the year indicating people with preexisting medical conditions who are vaccinated against COVID-19 are better protected against serious morbidity than their unvaccinated peers who have no existing health risks.

The ministry relied on data from two age groups — Israelis age 40-49 and 70-79 — to compare rates of serious morbidity. The statistics show a lower percentage of serious cases among the vaccinated with preexisting conditions compared to people in the same age bracket who are unvaccinated, regardless of any comorbidity.

Entry of Qatari-funded fuel into Gaza being held up, with sides disputing who’s responsible

A fuel truck with a Qatari flag enters the Nusseirat power plant, in the central Gaza Strip, June 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
A fuel truck with a Qatari flag enters the Nusseirat power plant, in the central Gaza Strip, June 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Israeli authorities prevent 25 truckloads of Qatari-funded fuel intended for Gaza’s only power plant from entering the Strip, Hamas officials tell the terror group’s Al-Aqsa Radio station.

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, which is responsible for coordinating the entry of goods into and out of Gaza, declines to comment.

A Defense Ministry official says on condition of anonymity that the fault lies on the Palestinian side, as the Palestinian Authority body responsible for coordinating with Israel had failed to inform Israel that the fuel would enter.

“As soon as the Palestinians properly coordinate with us, the fuel will enter,” the official says.

Two Palestinian officials in Gaza dismiss that rationale, saying they weren’t informed of any coordination issues and that they aren’t responsible for allowing Qatari fuel to enter. In general, they say, Qatar and the United Nations coordinate with Israel to allow fuel to enter Gaza.

Qatari has provided subsidized fuel for Gaza’s only power plant since 2018 as part of an aid package it provides to the coastal enclave. Until the recent escalation between Israel and Hamas, Jerusalem permitted the subsidies to enter in a bid to keep tensions low on its southern border.

Since the escalation, Israel has largely halted the entrance of Qatari subsidies — which in the past included millions in cash — although it recently permitted Qatari-funded fuel to begin re-entering Gaza. Israeli officials have vowed that they will not return to the status quo before the war, which they view as too favorable to the Hamas terror group, which rules the Strip.

Both Qatar and the United Nations decline to comment.

Iran fetes Revolutionary Guard nurse for winning Olympic gold in shooting

Iran's Javad Foroughi competes in the men's 10m air pistol final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Asaka Shooting Range in the Nerima district of Tokyo on July 24, 2021. (Tauseef Mustafa/AFP)
Iran's Javad Foroughi competes in the men's 10m air pistol final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Asaka Shooting Range in the Nerima district of Tokyo on July 24, 2021. (Tauseef Mustafa/AFP)

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran celebrates 41-year-old Javad Foroughi, an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps hospital nurse, who won gold in the 10m air pistol to become the Islamic Republic’s oldest and newest Olympic champion.

Foroughi, who survived Covid-19 in the Middle East’s worst-hit country, became Iran’s first medal winner in any shooting event at the Olympics.

“Foroughi makes history with a golden shot,” headlines the government daily Iran, splashing his picture on the front page — as do many other newspapers in his homeland.

The ultra-conservative Javan publishes a picture of Foroughi giving a military salute on the podium as Iran’s national anthem played.

“An unexpected medal… won by a Guards nurse who is at the same time a defender of health and of the shrine,” the newspaper writes.

The term “defender of the shrine” refers to those who work on Iran’s behalf in Syria and Iraq, which also house major sanctuaries in Shiite Islam.

At the beginning of May, Foroughi told public television channel Salamat (“Health” in Persian) about serving at field hospitals in Syrian war zones, including at Palmyra.

Media reports said Foroughi contracted Covid-19 in August last year, and also helped to battle the virus at home in Iran, which has reported nearly 89,000 deaths out of more than 3,690,000 infections.

Israeli Apache makes emergency landing in West Bank due to technical problem

Illustrative photo of an Israeli Air Force Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopter, June 8, 2012. (Ofer Zidon/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of an Israeli Air Force Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopter, June 8, 2012. (Ofer Zidon/Flash90)

An Israeli Air Force Apache helicopter made an emergency landing in the West Bank due to a technical malfunction during a training flight, the military says.

Technical staff will arrive at the point shortly to service the attack helicopter and return it to operation, according to the air force.

Residents of the nearby Eli settlement offer food and drink to the pilots while they wait for the service team to arrive.

President Herzog holds first work meeting with opposition chief Netanyahu

President Isaac Herzog (R) and Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu pose for a photo during a meeting at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, July 25, 2021. (Mark Neyman/GPO)
President Isaac Herzog (R) and Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu pose for a photo during a meeting at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, July 25, 2021. (Mark Neyman/GPO)

President Isaac Herzog holds his first work meeting with opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

“During the meeting the two discussed the burning issues on the agenda, foremost  dealing with the coronavirus. The president noted the great importance he sees in the role of the opposition in the Knesset and that there is no democracy without opposition,” a statement from Herzog’s office says.

Herzog, a former Labor party chief who served as opposition leader between 2013 and 2018, became president earlier this month when his predecessor Reuven Rivlin’s term ended. Netanyahu has been opposition leader since he was replaced as premier by Naftali Bennett last month.

2 COVID patients dead after power outage at Jordanian hospital

AMMAN, Jordan — Jordan’s health minister says two coronavirus patients have died at a hospital in Amman after a short circuit knocked out power at the facility’s intensive care unit.

Health Minister Firas Al-Hawari tells state media that two people were confirmed dead at the hospital.

Investigators are working to determine the cause and whether the power outage was responsible for the deaths. Former health minister Nathir Obeidat resigned earlier this year after several COVID-19 patients died at a government hospital in Salt when their oxygen supply ran out.

IDF noncommissioned officer in serious condition after snake bite

The military says a noncommissioned officer is in serious condition after being bitten by a snake on a base in central Israel last night.

The NCO has been hospitalized and his family is with him, according to the Israel Defense Forces, which says the incident will be investigated.

Government okays proposal for electronic monitoring of returning travelers

Travelers arriving at Ben Gurion Airport on July 1, 2021. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Travelers arriving at Ben Gurion Airport on July 1, 2021. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Government ministers okay a proposal authorizing Public Security Minister Omer Barlev to revive electronic monitoring of returning travelers to ensure they remain in quarantine.

The surveillance will be conducted using a phone application rather than electronic bracelets, according to Hebrew media reprots.

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